THE CHILDREN COUNCIL’S SECOND MEETING OF THE YEAR WAS HELD
The children, who are representatives of all districts in the country, took part in the second meeting of the Children's Council for the year. It took place online on 3 November 2020 due to the measures imposed against the spread of COVID-19.
The Children's Council is an advisory body to the Chairperson of the State Agency for Child Protection, which has been operating since 2003. It consists of children (main and deputy representatives) from each district in our country, as well as children from vulnerable groups and a representative of children who have received international protection in Bulgaria.
"You may not believe it, but Bulgaria is one of the few countries with such a body, comprised entirely of children, which has existed for 17 years," explained to the new representatives of the children's voice in Bulgaria - Diyan Kalaydzhiev, Chairperson of the Children's Council at the SACP. He stressed that the Children's Council strives to protect the interests of all children and youth in the country. As an example of this, he pointed to the recent meeting with the Minister of Education and Science regarding the measures related to COVID-19 in schools and the pros and cons of our education system.
Bulgaria has its young and alert people with many ideas, whom the Council gives a field for expression and an opportunity to express their opinion on issues of public importance.
The Chairperson of the SACP, Dr. Eleonora Lilova, congratulated the new members of the Council with the words: “Being a member of the Children's Council is not only an exciting experience, but also a great responsibility. You are given the opportunity to participate in the development of useful proposals and activities for the development of all children. Therefore, as Chairperson of the SACP, I count on your activity and initiative to contribute to ensuring children's participation and the rights of all children during your mandate."
This year, the procedure for electing members of the Council was held for members from 15 districts in the country who do not have representatives in it, because the 2-year term of the current members expires or they are 18 years old. The new representatives of the children's voice in Bulgaria are from the districts: Burgas, Vratsa, Lovech, Montana, Pleven, Plovdiv, Pazardzhik, Stara Zagora, Sofia region, Sliven, Smolyan, Razgrad, Shumen and Yambol. Their selection went through 3 levels: municipal, regional and national, and the selection criteria aim to improve the mechanism for children's participation at the national level, by ensuring broad representation of children and involving local governments, civil society, media and business. in the promotion and selection of candidates.
The participants in the meeting were unanimous that it is the children who should formulate the problems and the ways in which their voice can be heard more clearly by the adults. They made proposals for the implementation of an environmental project related to environmental protection; conducting trainings for better communication with institutions; promoting the rights of children among children with special educational needs; creation of a unified telephone line of the Council, etc.
The meeting also focused on the presentation of the initiative for the preparation of a "White Paper for the Child" regarding the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the
Agency. The publication will describe the achievements in the last 10 years in our country and the current challenges facing the state policy regarding the provision of conditions for preserving children's rights, protection of their best interests and well-being.
"In order to create this paper, it is extremely important to ask your opinion and seek your point of view on issues such as: 'What makes me happy?' What do I want to change in order to live better? How do I imagine the future? etc.", Dr. Eleonora Lilova addressed the request to the members of the Council.
Since its establishment, the State Agency for Child Protection has implemented a large part of its activities together with children. For the agency, the existence of the Children's Council gives confidence to young people and children in our country that their opinion is important and should be taken into account by all stakeholders taking care of children’s welfare.